St. Patrick’s Day Delights

St. Patrick’s Day was originally a day of feasting to honor St. Patrick, a saint who was not originally from Ireland but was kidnapped by Irish Pirates from England and brought into Ireland at the age of 16. He was sold into slavery and then escaped six years later. But he decided to return as a missionary, eventually became a priest and a bishop, and then died on March 17, 461 AD. He did not drive all the snakes out of Ireland, as myth states, (there never were any snakes in the UK because of the frigid water surrounding it), and St. Patrick’s Day was largely forgotten for the better part of a few centuries. St. Patrick’s Day as we know it today was developed by Irish immigrants in North America. They were treated terribly by most North Americans and wanted a day to remember and feel proud of their home country, so they started having parades.

Thanks to Irish Pirates and Irish immigrants we have a day in March to eat, drink, and be merry—not to mention wear green, pinch people, and talk about leprechauns. There is always the traditional meal of corned beef, potatoes, and cabbage, or the approach of serving only green food. I like to mix tradition and innovation, so here are a few different easy appetizer recipes you might like to try this Tuesday.

Kale Chips: These delicious and healthy snacks are incredibly easy to make, just make sure to keep an eye on them so they don’t burn! Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. De-stem the kale, I usually just pull it off of the stem into the size I want the chips to be. Spray a baking sheet, lay out the kale on the baking sheet, the kale can touch but don’t layer it. Sprinkle salt, pepper, garlic powder, cayenne or red pepper flakes if you like a little heat, and squeeze some lemon juice over top and put in the oven for about 5 minutes. Make sure to watch the kale, the time will differ depending on how big the kale pieces are. Enjoy!

Salt and Vinegar Smashed Potatoes: Potatoes are a must for St. Patrick’s Day, but I get stuck in making them only a few different ways. I was excited to find a different way to cook potatoes! I decided to try out this recipe and they turned out great, but mine definitely were not as pretty as the ones pictured in the recipe.

2 pounds mixed baby potatoes (Yukon Gold, red, etc.)
1 Tablespoon kosher salt, plus addt’l for sprinkling
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons white vinegar
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh chives
Freshly ground black pepper

smashed potatoes 2Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Add potatoes and 1 Tbsp. kosher salt to a medium saucepan. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and return potatoes to saucepan. Add butter and gently toss to coat. Transfer potatoes to prepared baking sheet, spreading them out in a single layer. Using a heavy mug or glass, smash each potato to about 1/2-inch thickness. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove potatoes from oven and turn each with a spatula. Drizzle with olive oil and continue baking for 20 minutes more. Once baked, sprinkle with vinegar, chopped chives, salt and pepper. Serve hot.

Greek Spinach Dip: Dip is always a favorite appetizer of mine but it is hard to find a recipe for dip that isn’t amazingly terrible for you. Luckily I was able to find a spinach dip with Greek yogurt and feta cheese, its flavor is similar to the Greek pastry, Spanakopita. It would be great served with pita chips or pita bread.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup roughly chopped shallots
4 green onions, chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
12 ounces spinach leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 cup finely crumbled feta cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
Freshly ground black pepper

Heat oil in a large frying pan over high heat. Add shallots, onions, and garlic and cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add spinach and cook, stirring often, until wilted, about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, scoop spinach into a food processor; pulse until roughly puréed, about 5 pulses. Add remaining ingredients except pepper, pulse once just to combine, then season to taste with pepper.

I would recommend adding Irish Soda Bread from Stick Boy to the celebration, they offer two different flavors: traditional and chocolate. Along with some boozy cupcakes from JP’s Pastry: Chocolate Bailey’s Cupcake (chocolate cupcake, Bailey buttercream, dipped in Bailey’s infused ganache) and Irish Whiskey Maple Vanilla Cupcake (Sour Cream White cake, Irish Whiskey Buttercream, scented with maple syrup).

Finally, we can’t celebrate St. Patty’s Day without beer. If you want something different than Guinness (although over 13 million pints are consumed around the world on St. Patrick’s Day), I have selected some awesome local beer with the help of my good friend, Reece, over at Aviator Brewing Company in Fuquay-Varina.

Hogwild IPA (Aviator Brewing Fuquay-Varina, NC): “A golden brew made with Pale Ale and Vienna malts.  A veritable fest of the big “C” hops. Chinook, Columbus, Cascade.  Dry hopped with Magnum, Williamette, and Amarillo.  A very hoppy and refreshing ale.”
Bed of Nails Brown Ale (Hi-Wire Brewing, Asheville, NC): “Our brown ale is crafted as an ode to traditional English brown. Its delicate body allows the flavors of caramel and toffee from our specialty malts to come to life.”
Silverback American Stout (Unknown Brewing Charlotte, NC): “This 6.5% ABV stout with 7 grains and all West Coast hops. It has a beautiful, tan head and the malts give create a smooth roasted taste and chocolate notes. It finishes with slight pine and a little more hops than most traditional stouts.”
Torch Pilsner (Foothills Brewing, Winston-Salem, NC): “Legend has it that, well over a century ago, citizens of western Bohemia grew so dissatisfied with their beer they dumped it in the streets. So a new style evolved, in the city of Pilsen, combining the soft local water with pale malts and earthy Saaz hops. And the Bohemians were pleased. Our pilsner adheres closely to that original style. ’Cause we like happy Bohemians.”

Happy celebrations!

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